Error message when you update external links that contain a three-dimensional reference


Consider the following scenario:

  • You create a workbook (workbook A) and save it as an .xlsx file in Microsoft Excel.
  • You create a defined name under the Formulas tab that refers to a three-dimensional reference.
  • You save workbook A.
  • You create another workbook (workbook B) and save it as an .xlsx file.
  • You add an external reference link to the defined name in workbook A.
  • You save workbook B, you close both workbooks, and then you open workbook B again.
  • You update external reference links when you are prompted to do this.

In this scenario, you receive one of the following error messages:

Microsoft Excel cannot find name "Defined Name".
There are two possible reasons: The name you specified may not be defined. The name you specified is defined as something other than a rectangular cell reference. Check the name and try again.
We can't update some of the links in your workbook right now. You can continue without updating their values, or edit the links you think are wrong.


To work around this issue, use either of the following methods:

  • Save workbook A and workbook B as .xlsb files.
  • Do not add an external reference link to a defined name that refers to a 3-D reference in workbook B.